Motorsport News

Second Bathurst circuit tender awarded

FOLLOWING a lengthy process, The Bathurst Regional Council has awarded the tender for the design of the Second Circuit at Mount Panorama to Apex Circuit Design.

The Council released a tender document in April last year outlining the required specifications for the circuit.

Three submissions were received, two from international companies and one from an Australian business.

Recent Apex projects include, amongst others, the brand-new Zehjaing circuit in China, the Dubai AutoDrome and the upgrade to the Mexico City Grand Prix circuit.

The company has also recently completed design for the motor racing circuit at Keysbrook, Western Australia.

Mayor Graeme Hanger OAM said Council has a vision to build on the city’s reputation for staging world class international motor sport events and take it to the next level.

“This announcement is the start of bringing this vision to reality”, he said

“Apex Circuit Design has extensive experience in motor track design and the company has designed and delivered some of the best motor sports tracks around the world.”

“Bringing Apex on board with this project allows us to get this design right, to make the second circuit a world renowned facility, as iconic in the world of motorsports as the existing Mount Panorama circuit.”

Mayor Hanger said to date, a total of $25 million has been provided for the project – $15 million from the NSW Government and $10 million from the Federal Government, and thanked the governments for their support and belief in the project.

Member for Bathurst Paul Toole MP joined Council at the tender announcement.

“This is one of the most significant developments for not just the Bathurst region, but also the greater Central West and beyond.

“The ability for Mount Panorama to increase its capacity as one of the world’s greatest motor racing circuits provides huge economic benefits to all sectors of our community.

“A second circuit will bring the bikes back to the city, in addition to many other commercial opportunities which will see the new precinct being used every week of the year.

“The NSW Government is proud to be supporting this development and has already committed $15 million to help make this venture become a reality,”

According to a release from the Bathurst Regional Council, the next stage of the process includes the creation of a master plan followed by detailed design and preparation of the planning documentation.

The circuit, which will be FIA and FIM approved, would be constructed within an 84-week period following the contract being signed off.

THE RACE TORQUE COMMENT

HERE’S proof that motorsport in this country doesn’t revolve around government funding solely being funneled to street circuits.

Get an enthusiastic council with a strong heritage and a government keen to promote traffic in a key tourist region and things can happen.

Between this, the proposed circuit in Pakenham, Victoria, the new Keysbrook circuit near Perth and Mildura’s long-running plans for a permanent circuit signs are positive for the future of permanent facilities in Australia.

And that’s before we remember the more than $110m spent at Tailem Bend by the Shahin family – with some support from the SA Government – or the major investment occurring on a slightly smaller scale at Marulan.

Major street circuit events like Townsville and Newcastle get criticised for the fact they leave no permanent motorsport infrastructure behind. The truth is, it’s hard for governments to justify financial contributions to circuits that aren’t in a major tourist zone they want to promote.

It is also true that there aren’t that many Shahin families just sitting around, waiting to spend millions on a circuit.

However, it is proof that if you are in the right region and have the support of all three tiers of government, as is the case here, things can happen.

The biggest question mark is whether this new circuit can be successful.

People complain that The Bend is little more than an hour out of Adelaide, but Bathurst is closer to three from Sydney – and that’s before you get to the traffic.

Building a viable business case for the new circuit will be perhaps the biggest challenge that faces the Bathurst council, though they have an immediate advantage in that they can market the brand ‘Bathurst’ whenever they reference the circuit. As far as brands go, it’s about as powerful as they get in Australia.

Encouraging people to travel to inland New South Wales to not race on the big track will be a marketing challenge they will need to attack with gusto.

There’s also only so many events they can attract. Would Supercars hold a second round there? It’s happened before, though on the main track. Shannons Nationals are a possibility. Australian Superbikes are a certainty.

But if they think they’re just going to build a circuit and attract World Superbikes or an IndyCar race they may be left scratching their heads.

And as lovely as the artwork supplied is, hopefully the circuit offers at least a nod towards its neighbor in terms of driving challenge and visual appeal.

On the upside, the second Bathurst circuit will likely help protect it’s big brother on the other side of Mount Panorama, too.

the 6.213km of hallowed bitumen is used four times a year; Any more and there would be a risk that it would stop being special – stop being an event each time people race there.

People roll their eyes every time a new Nurburgring lap record is set (well, almost every time – we’re still shaking from Porsche’s recent efforts) and it feels like some of the mystique is gone.

Bathurst is Bathurst. The second track will be a nice alternative that ensures the halo doesn’t fall from Skyline on the grand daddy of Aussie Motorsport, while at the same time giving national and club racing – and perhaps two-wheeled action – somewhere else to go.

The bottom line is, the more investment in permanent circuits in this country, the better.

– Richard Craill